How We Grew: Scaling Email Marketing with Product Recommendations

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David Luther

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Digital content strategist, content outreach specialist, content writer, SEO expert, and hot sauce aficionado.

Key to RST Brands’ success as a furniture company is its commitment to “solutions that don’t compromise on quality, comfort, or style” — but their robust direct-to-consumer email marketing program, which has seen an 87% increase in revenue over the past three years, deserves credit too.

“It’s continued to grow our business overall,” said Tim Taylor, RST’s email marketing manager.

After saving time by automating workflows for transactional messages, promotional emails, and welcome series, they turned their attention to another opportunity to help drive incremental revenue: promoting relevant add-ons and complementary accessories, such as protective covers, pillows, and umbrellas in their emails.

Manually adding product recommendations to emails for a 1,500-item catalog was too much effort for a two-man team, and tailoring them to each customer was simply impossible, Taylor said.

“You can’t really scale,” he said. “We wanted to get away from having to work on it ourselves.”

That changed with the introduction of personalized recommendations in their email marketing, which RST Brands includes in every promotional email, welcome series, and abandoned cart message.

“It’s one less thing to worry about, so now we can focus on our messaging, our creative, on what we want the message to be,” said Taylor, who appreciated the time automation freed up.

Matt Grimm, RST Brands’ director of ecommerce, noted the added element of personalization.

“The shopping experience is way more focused on what is relevant to them at that time,” he said. “It allowed us to tie together smaller items that would go well with pre-configured sets.”

That relevance paid off.

Customers bought the recommended pieces, and RST Brands saw an increase of 62% in average order value during their first Black Friday and Cyber Monday with personalized recommendations — and for an outdoor furniture company, that’s the off-season.

“That’s when I said that I think we really have something,” Taylor said. Their conversion rate jumped to nearly 6% during Black Friday and Cyber Monday as well.

RST also uses recommendations for their websites, RST Brands and Flow Wall, which contributed $235,000 in added revenue within the first six months. They’ve seen enormous success with cart recovery as well, with 33% of email marketing revenue coming from abandoned cart emails with personalized recommendations.

And as RST’s email-generated revenue grew by 37% from 2017 to 2018, Taylor’s assessment seems accurate: “What we’re doing there is definitely working.”

Learn more about Bronto’s email recommendation solution.

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